Alastair Robertson: The new firearms officer pays a visit

WE have had the new firearms officer round for what I think is technically known as a “quinquennial inspection” for the renewal of my firearms (rifles) and shotgun certificates. In other words, the five yearly check to see if all the guns are properly locked up, that I haven’t sneaked an AK47 into the gun cabinet or started frothing at the mouth.
Alastair Robertson. Picture: Donald MacleodAlastair Robertson. Picture: Donald Macleod
Alastair Robertson. Picture: Donald Macleod

He seems chipper enough, although the word in the hedgerows is that he has taken rifles off a couple of people he doesn’t consider “fit and proper”; so we had all better be on our best behaviour.

And so we started the laborious process of going through the paperwork for both rifle and shotgun certificates. I can report that for all its other failings, Police Scotland has finally introduced simplified renewal forms which even I can understand. The previous ones were a nightmare of countersigned photographs in triplicate. So we went through the usual Q&A stuff: Was I safe with a rifle? Was I an alcoholic drug addict in the grips of depression? To which, of course, there are any number of facetious and amusing answers. But it is wiser to appear mildly appalled, and look terribly serious. Don’t be a clever dick, just move on. Which we did.

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A Brno .22 with silencer? Tick. A .243 Howa, also with silencer? Tick. An AYA single barrel 12 bore shotgun. Eh? Nothing to do with me guv. But there it was, in crisp Times New Roman type on the police list of “firearms” I am supposed to possess. The fact it was on my firearms record, instead of my shotgun certificate suggested it must be a five shot semi-automatic. My immediate reaction, I am ashamed to say, was one of smug satisfaction – rather like being stopped by the Bobbies when you know you haven’t touched a drop. For once I was completely in the clear. But the big question was: if I didn’t have this lethal weapon, then who did?

Rather disappointingly the mystery was partially solved within the day. My son had bought an AYA side-by-side double-barrel shotgun which was being kept at his father-in-law’s and which, it turned out, had the same number as the mystery weapon. So they were really one and the same gun but some muddle had occurred when it was entered on police records. (I suspect the hand written letters “sbs” had been read as “single barrel shotgun” rather than “side-by-side”). That still doesn’t fully explain why it was on my firearms certificate. But at least the system established there isn’t a rogue gun out there, even though it had managed to invent one in the first place. n